ZeroMQ - Messaging for Many Application by Peter Hintjens; O'Reilly Media

Building Distributed Systems and Communities

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I came in expecting to learn about the magic of ZeroMQ, and I came out knowing not only more about ZeroMQ itself, but also distributed systems and community building.

The first chapter primes the rest of the text, preparing the reader to not only learn more about the world of distributed computing, but also begins instilling a certain excitement about how things could be so much easier, and how ZeroMQ enables this. This is surprising, as very few technical texts manage to become page-turners so quickly.

The next four chapters are a deep dive into ZeroMQ (and distributed systems) best practices. Heartbeats, publish/subscribe, request/reply, round-robin task distribution, and then composing all of these patterns and more. It’s a collection of best practices without seeming like a dictionary. I could spend a few months practicing and studying these best practices and I’d feel like I knew more about how to build reliable systems.

The last half of the book is all about how to build communities and processes that last. Building distributed systems requires effective communication. There’s a wealth of knowledge in the last portion of the book about how to enable that. Some great advice includes:

A good chunk of the community building advice is available as the ZMQ C4.1 guide. It’s elaborated on much more deeply in this book, which I appreciate. C4 is the contract; this book is the rationale.

If you’re interested in or need to build a system that’s highly concurrent, has high reliability and/or performance requirements, and even if you can’t use ZMQ to build said system, get this book anyway. You’ll learn a lot in the process that you can apply to making network (and team) communication much more effective.